I’d sneak into the parking lot and look around to be sure I am alone. I’d sound my clicker and she will come dashing from under the sink.
She’d stop short a few feet away, close enough for me to throw a long strip of fish, far enough so I couldn’t touch her. If I try to get closer, she’d run away, and once she runs away, she wouldn’t come back. She would rather not eat than get caught by human.
Not sure if it has to do with her damaged one eye, It’s different in size, and the eyeball inside is rather twisted to the left.
For a year, our romance is in that parking lot near the market. On nights when I cannot come because of the rain, I’d be thinking of her. On nights when she did not show, I am worried. Is she sick? Did someone snatch her into a sack and throw her to her doom? Maybe she had an accident and become one of the million road kills no one wants to know?
On days when I did not show, would she be thinking of me? What I know is, if I skip one day because of the weather, because of an urgent case or dying cat, the next day she’d be dashing a little bit faster, stopping a little bit closer, and she’d make a circle several times until I get her joyful code and apologize, then give her a little bigger fish.
There are times when she dashed with her fur full of mud spatters. There are times when someone deliberately threw garbage, or hot water, or shoes, or whatever, and she was bleeding, or has scrapes.
But then weeks after months, we are getting closer. The distance between us is shorter, and so is the space between her and the people around her. People who would let her sneak into their shop’s porch to sleep away from the burning sun, people who would crack their door so she can escape the rain.
Weeks after months, there are people who would wave their hand as I come into the parking lot, no longer sneaking. There are people who would smile and say “How do you do?”
There was this one occurrence when she dashed around me with a face full of color. A toddler had overtaken her mommy’s make up and put blush on over her two cheeks, a big, black circle around her one eye, maybe meant to be eyeliner, golden brown dust at the corners of her (cat) eye, and lipstick all over her chin. She was such a spectacle.
But just like the dusk and the dawn, there are these people who tried to harm her. There are these people who would think the world belongs to men, there are people who claimed they have allergies, that cats are dirty, and that she litters everywhere, and that yada yada yada.
Soon Julia was often trapped in the middle of the battle between the good men who tried to protect her and the bad demons who tried to harm her.
Soon Julia no longer dashed when I came, but hid further and further away from the parking lot. And weeks after month Julia is darker, and gloomier. Weeks after months Julia is thinner, Julia is dirtier, Julia is quieter. Julia no longer comes.
No matter how long I waited, no matter how loudly I called. No matter what food I bring. Julia no longer there. Whether day or night when I come looking, Julia no longer there. One week, two weeks. Three weeks.
One night, I stood there in that empty parking lot, looking to the sky. “Hey, God, what does this little cat done to You, that You allow bad things to happen to her? What is so good out of these contaminated men that You throw away from paradise, that you’d let slip whatever evil they do onto your innocent creatures, and even willingly give Your Son to atone for them? Are You crazy, or are You stupid?”
There was one drop from the sky, and two drops from my eyes. Rain poured down all my way home. It can wash away my tears, but not quell my anger. It can hush my cries, but not erase my grief.
One morning, thirty days without her, I passed that parking lot at eleven in the morning, and I saw her sitting on the porch of a shop. She was skinny, dirty, and dry. I ran calling her name, and she came not dashing. She walked as if she is too tired to move, and sat before me. I opened a pouch of cat food, but she is not eating. I ran to buy a bottle of water, but she is not drinking. I stood back up, and walked to the market, just in case someone is still there selling fish, and she followed me. I told her the market is full of dangerous people, and that she might lose me, but she keeps walking. Closer to my feet, faster along my pace.
I walked back to the parking lot, and bought a shopping bag. I poured down everything into the bag, and put Julia inside my backpack.
I’d sneak into the dark hall and look around to be sure I am alone. I’d sound my clicker and she will come dashing from under the sink.
She’d stop short a few feet away, close enough for me to throw a long strip of fish, far enough so I couldn’t touch her. Then she’d jump to my lap, and curl up on my feet.
For a year, our romance is in that parking lot, near the market. For now, and many years to come, our romance will be here. Home. ~ Josie
When in doubt, when in fear, when in despair, when in sadness, when lost, I always look up to the kittens; every single one of them. The blind ones, the malnourished, the one with nerve damage, the ones with genetic error. The one rejected by mother, the one dumped to the street from moving vehicle.
They cried in terror, they scream their heart out, but no one knows their language. Those too young to know what’s going on, stay in silence, looking up, seeking answers, but still, no one knows their language.
Yet as soon as they reach home; as soon as they find food, see a soft bed, taste fresh, clean water, everything is good in this world. They’d sit in corners, but when no one is looking, there they go, chasing imaginary prey. There they go, trying to rip the edges of our frayed mat, as if Perseus in his quest to behead Medusa.
There they go, running across the house and around every room. Sometimes with peers, sometimes alone, but always with brightness, light, energy, and life.
Life: how much left do we have it? Our days are numbered, If I do not have my little Perseus or Hercules or Sunny or Christobal or Bobby, or Xena or Gabrielle. If I don’t have these little jewels to keep my sanity in my head I will have none.
If I do not have these little sparks that keep my fire burning, If I don’t see the smiles of the angels, I would have long be gone.
So much is my gratitude to these little guardians of the galaxy; that go through all odds and still living.
In their small figure, in their young age, in all their suffering.
And so much is my gratitude to you, who give as much as you can to keep us living, to keep them living. We are so close to raise half of what we need, and close to half is a lot, lot more than nothing.
At least, that flicker of hope can glow brighter, can burn bigger, can spread more light.
Who knows we might raise enough to escape foreclosure, who knows there are people who truly care. Who knows there are more like you.
Who knows these little fairies can live just a little bit longer.
We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon. From one tiny cat suffering alone, slowly dying on a hot paving block as he didn’t know where he was going, to a bedraggled mother cat carrying a massive tumour for years and years, waiting for death to come by the uncaring roadside. We came many times to those days where it’s a thick wall all around. Many times we come to that point when we were suffocating in that bricked dark room, we no longer need a door, we no longer want a window, even an air inlet means life.
Many times I come to the blind morning like now, sitting alone, crying alone, praying alone, as I think about 160 cats behind that door whose life are on my shoulder, just like Pochi, who choose to sit on that narrow bone below my neck, while there is a soft pillow right next to me.
Many times now, I no longer remember, since we last reached our weekly goal of USD 600 to put food on the table, to bring medicine to the sick, treatment to those who survive their battle on Helm’s Deep, and comfort for the disabled and the old. USD 600 a week barely covers it all. It brings the most basic care, but I insisted for only USD 600 a week, instead of the many thousands the bigger companies are plowing their followers every day, not because I am rich, but because I know that my Whiskers’ Syndicate people are hard working men and women who have to put food on their own table, vacation, school for children, insurance, medical, and many more.
USD 600 a week barely covers it all. It brings the most basic care, but I insisted for only USD 600 a week for years, even though prices are increasing everywhere, not so I can hire expensive marketing agencies to target and spam those I call my friends; USD 600 a week buys me enough time so I can work on other important liabilities. Like USD 450 per month mortgage that give everyone the home to protect them, like USD 250 per month utility bills that put light, warmth, water, and cooked food. Like another USD 250 per month to spay and neuter all the kittens we all go squeaky and cuddly about so they don’t have to repeat the evil circle that put them on the street and cruelty, clinging for life and crying for mercy.
It is my gratitude to everyone who helps, because I know that even if I live another ten thousand years I wouldn’t be able to pay these caring people even half of all the blessings and opportunity they afforded me to do toward these cats.
So what happened to all the weeks that passed with less than USD 600 a week? Those will be the few hours of my sleep, the one and a half hour of food break, three hours when I should really be putting an update on Facebook before someone thinks I’m a scammer, or the page is drowned by the system (and there goes all the life support). Those will be the Saturdays when I can only envy those who sit calmly on the corner sipping tea, sit in Starbucks, or chat with family and friends under the warm sun and gentle wind.
All the weeks that passed with less than USD 600 goes away, taking my savings for that USD 450 mortgage, USD 250 utility bills and USD 250 neutering fund. All the weeks that passed with less than USD 600 will come back as a foreclosure warning, dark and cold house, and no Internet to send those jokes and memes everyone love.
Such a letter about foreclosure came not by an owl yesterday afternoon, yet it makes my world spinning faster. If I do not raise USD 950 by the end of June, there will be nothing left of us.
I put little Pochi down for the third time, because I am afraid she will slip and fall to the hard floor, hitting various objects as she meets gravity. It’s for her safety, not out of my unwilling sore neck, but she sat on that fluffy pillow, looking at me with her sleepy eyes, and crawl back to my shoulder.
There is this little pride trickled into my heavy heart, that these cats have faith in me even when this time will really be our end. But cats are part of the Gods and they can sense so much more than us humans. So maybe they are telling me that this too shall pass? What if this is not faith, but them trying to convey their sweetest goodbye as the impending doom is truly near?
The rooster is crooning. It’s time to go. Twenty seven in five colonies, thirty more along the way in between, sometimes there, sometimes not.
We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.
“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt (32nd President of the United States of America: 1933 – 1945) on his Address on Hemisphere Defense, Dayton, Ohio. October 12, 1940
“Hey, wait!” “Wait!, I am here, wait a minute, wait for me!”
I cannot hear it, nor can I see who said it, but I can feel it.
“Wait, don’t leave yet, please wait”
I turn around to browse my surrounding. Nothing, no one. Just me, the sun, the morning wind, and four cats in the colony, each of whom just takes their share of steamed fish.
He was down there. Trying to run, trying to speed, trying to reach us, from the other side of that large SOHO complex. And he ran with only three legs.
I took my fish bag and met him half way, He didn’t wait. He crashed onto the fish as soon as I put my bag down, and bit as much fish as he could.
He was new in the area; he cannot hunt, he cannot scavenge, he doesn’t know anyone that he can beg from. Hence, he’s starving.
I let him finish one strip of fish, lifted him up and put him in my backpack. He squirms and he struggles; he is heavy and he is strong, but with one leg gone he is no longer so much to handle.
At home, he stayed at the corner. He made no sound, he made no moves. He peed on his spot and he pooped on the same spot. He waited patiently for a plate to come when it’s time to eat, he wouldn’t drink unless a bowl was served beside him.
He meows, a few days later. A kitten had taken his share of food and with a body his size it doesn’t take long before he succumbed to hunger. I put another bowl of fish and chicken, a little bit further than usual. The next day it’s just a tiny bit further. The day after that a little bit further. Then I put his bowl on the floor, and he didn’t eat. The next day I put the bowl on the floor, and he didn’t eat. The third day I put the bowl on the floor and he walked down to eat.
Since then, it’s always an inch or two further from his corner and closer to everyone else. When he finally ate with the others, I pretended I didn’t see him until he meowed.
The week after comes the physiotherapy and acupuncture. To help him walk instead of hop, and to reduce stress and muscle sores to the other front leg and his shoulder. He is a healthy and heavy cat, so he might have lost his leg only recently, though no one knows how he ended up losing that leg.
He learned to balance, so he started using the litter box. He feels better on his other legs and shoulders, so he learns to jump. He learns to climb. He learns to groom.
He learns that kittens are not an army of Lilliputians. They are just attracted to his fuzzy, bear-like, soft hair. He learns that other cats care enough to give him rubs and to groom him once in a while and if anything, at least they don’t care. He blends into the sanctuary like a bag of tea steeping into water.
He was disabled, he was dumped, but now he can see that his life turns for the better.
There are more cats like Leon in the sanctuary. One who lost a leg, one who has her leg bent permanently after being crushed as a kitten, one who lost one eye, one who cannot hear, one who cannot see. Even with their disabilities they try to live. Even with less hope, they do their best. Please tell them there is still good in this world, and that having fewer limbs doesn’t mean they deserve life any less: paypal.me/whiskerssyndicate
If someone paid arms and legs for Milo, it’s Milo. She took a sachet of Milo energy drink from a stall and the owner of the stall beat her up. One of her front leg was torn, some ligaments were broken, one finger dislocated, and she was left there crawling for her life, trying to go home to her two babies. All she wanted was food for her starving two kittens, whom she hid at the corner of a slum alley.
A young student (elementary grade student) who often drops by to play with our cats, told us in tears about how she failed to protect “her stray cat” because the cat was injured when she was at school and how her parents were scraping money to bring the cat to the vet, so I stepped in. I took Milo to the vet for treatments while doing my best to help her malnourished and parasite infested two babies back to health.
Milo cannot be operated. Her ligaments were completely cut off, though luckily it’s not an important ligament that incapacitated her walk. The flesh that was torn was so wide, we can see her bone and poke it freely with our thumb, so what is there to be sewn? The only way is to bandage that hole in her leg and have her body renew the ligament and flesh.
It took Milo months to be able to sit again. It took Milo even longer to stand. She hops like a rabbit from one place to the other: for litter box, for food, for drink, for help with anything.
As hard as it is, though, she always come home to her kittens. Sometimes after asking for a long strip of fish, sometimes she braves herself enough to snatch a piece of chicken fillet.
Very slowly, her torn ligaments are mending. That gaping hole on her leg is filled, but we must be a bit more patient until she can learn to walk like a cat again.
The dislocated finger cannot be healed, so she will walk with one finger twisted.
Every day, our young carer would come after school to ask how Milo is going. Whether she eats, whether she drinks, whether she walks, whether her babies are all right.
Every day, she sat by Milo to give her a back rub, soft and gentle. Every day, she took time to lift Milo’s baby, one after another, cradled them in her arms, and whispers her best of wishes that they grow healthy and happy.
Every day, she would tell us how Milo had changed. How Milo darkened from a cheerful kitty to a gloomy mother. How Milo stop chirping and telling her stories, how Milo would now prefer to stay away from others. She knows Milo is all right. She knows Milo has good food, warm blanket, fresh water, but the Milo she knows, is no longer the same cat she used to know.
When exam days finally come, the girl stops coming. She has her whole life before her, and she has to fight to keep it. She has to graduate with good marks from elementary school, so she can go to a good Junior High School.
Milo would wait for her by the window, though obviously, she wouldn’t tell anyone. When the day comes to end, and the sun sets in the red dusk, she would hop back to a shelves just next to the pen where her children rest. She will still be looking to the door, or the window. When she can no longer sit straight, she’d go and back to her babies, and curls up around them to the end of the night.
I’d come with a plate of kitty milk, and I told her stories of other cats in the sanctuary, how they come to live with us. I’d talk about my dreams, my sorrows, disappointment at the life’s unfairness. I’d told Milo about the slums where I lived, years before I came to settle upon this place, and the years her guardian must live in if she did not fight to get out of the slums.
Milo will look at me. Milo understands. Sometimes, she’d put her paw above my hand. And one day we’ll be Saturday night.